It’s rarely good when The Associated Press is taking pictures like the one above. The stereotypical shot of a dejected baseball dugout is a bad sign, and the AP has taken that very same picture twice this week.
“It was already a frustrating game early on, them getting four runs in the first inning,” Russell Martin said. “That’s already frustrating. What can you do? We’ve had losses like this before and obviously it’s a big loss, but we’ve still got to come back and do our thing tomorrow.”
Have the Yankees really had losses like this before? Maybe in some other season, in some other ballpark, but certainly not this season in a loud, ready-to-win Camden Yards. Forget those comments earlier this week about those games at Tropicana Field feeling like playoff games. This was a postseason atmosphere. It started with the Cal Ripken tribute pregame, and it grew when Matt Wieters hit his three-run homer in the first. But in the bottom of the eighth, this place was supercharged.
The Yankees are a veteran bunch who have been through a lot, but it was hard to take this as any other loss. Not after the Yankees came back with an impressive two-out rally in the top half of the inning. Not with first place one the line. Not with three — three! — home runs to put the Orioles in front and out of reach.
“If you lose 6-1 it’s an important win for them and an important loss for us,” Joe Girardi said. “I don’t know if I’d feel any different. … When you’re fighting a team for first place, a loss is a loss.”
• Dave Robertson might not be having the season he had last year, but he’s still be awfully good. Frankly, most of the Yankees bullpen concerns center on their ability to get the ball to Robertson, and those middle relievers actually did a nice job tonight. “I was really excited to come into the ballgame and do well,” Robertson said. “It’s not a lot of times this year it seems like we made a big push like that to tie a ballgame. I come in to do a job and be able to put up a zero right there. I feel like I let the team down today.”
• Robertson had Jones 0-2, missed badly with a curveball, then left a fastball over the middle of the plate. “I was trying to make a good pitch, get the ball in on him, up a little bit,” Robertson said. “I didn’t make the pitch. I left the ball over the plate, and he’s a good hitter. He did what he’s supposed to do — made a good swing on it and sent it into the seats.”
• The pitch that Reynolds hit in the eighth was a 3-2 fastball. “I tried to go down and away with that one,” Robertson said. “Left the ball over a little bit. It was over the middle of the plate. I didn’t think he got enough but he’s a strong hitter with a lot of pop and it got out there.”
• Robertson threw only one curveball tonight and nearly hit Jones with it. He seems to be leaning more heavily on his fastball lately, but he dismissed the trend. “No reason,” he said. “Nothing to it.”
• That eighth-inning rally to tie was awfully impressive, especially for a team that’s been talking about doing all the little things. With two outs that inning, the Yankees drew three walks, singled twice and got an RBI double from Alex Rodriguez. “What I take away from it is the eighth inning,” Rodriguez said. “Guys swinging the bat, competing, playing with a lot of intensity. Those guys, tip your cap. That was an impressive eighth inning. We had an impressive top half. They trumped us in the bottom half.”
• David Phelps had another bad first inning, with another slip on the mound for a balk. “Every loss is frustrating,” he said. “To come out of the gate that way and put us in a hole like that, it’s unacceptable. We had a big win last night, and we just lose all of that momentum that we built up last night in five batters. I’ve got to be better than that.”
• Phelps wants his home run pitch to Matt Wieters to be down and away. He left it up and away.
• The balk, Phelps said, is simply a matter of slipping on the mound. I believe he’s done it three times this season. “The mound was a little damp,” he said. “Got to make sure I dig it out a little better. It was fine the rest of the game.”
• In the Orioles past four games against the Yankees they’ve hit 12 extra-base hits. All 12 have been home runs.
• Last word goes to Martin: “When you have Dave Robertson on the mound, the last thing you’re expecting is a team hitting the long ball against him. It doesn’t happen very often. He made a mistake to Jones, and Reynolds was just a tough battle. He got back in a 3-2 count and hit a ball that I didn’t think was going to get out, but he’s such a strong kid that he kind of just muscled it out there. Tough loss.”
Associated Press photos